Home > Bad Customer Service Experiences, Great Customer Experiences > Customer Service Do’s & Don’ts

Customer Service Do’s & Don’ts

This past weekend I blogged about my poor customer service experience with Vueling, a Spanish low-cost airline who up until recently, based on personal experience, had been a shining example of innovation & customer service. Having completed the weekend experience on last night’s 21h45 flight back to Barcelona, allow me to recap where they went wrong & what they could have done better..

  • Initial Booking & On-line Check-in
    • What didn’t work
      • Joint booking assigned seats in different rows when plane seats are 80% unassigned
    • How it could be improved
      • Reservation engine that assigns seats considering joint bookings when seats are free
      • * side-note; the flight ended up being only at 70% capacity when it took off, which made matters worse.. obviously we then moved to adjoining seats
  • Response to Customer Complaint
    • What didn’t work
      • Getting a response (to my blog) in the name of the Vueling CEO telling me to look at their Cost Savings Policy as a justification.. totally irrelevant (I hope!!) to the topic at hand..
    • How it could be improved
      • I wrote the complaint in English & therefore being responded to in English would have helped.. fortunately I’m fluent in Spanish as well
      • A Customer Service representative that actually read my complaint and responded with an appropriate/relevant solution or explanation, instead of just treating me “like another complaint” that they’re obviously not going to action or follow-up
      • A response directly to me via my twitter post, as EasyJet did, instead of a broadcast message
      • Sign as “Customer Service Representative” instead of “Vueling CEO”
  • Return flight experience
    • What didn’t work
      • Again sitting in seats which weren’t adjoined.. seated across the isle this time, and again, as flight was 90% full, we switched to adjoined seats after take-off
      • ** Interestingly enough, by my wife giving up her seat, we were able to reunite another family who had been broken up by the same irrational policy
      • During one of the worst turbulent flights I’ve ever experienced, there was (1) no warning, (2) no acknowledgment or (3) any information about how much longer the turbulence might last.. I guess our safety & well being are also part of their Cost Saving measures (?!?!)
      • ** Compare this to an Iberia flight from São Paulo earlier this month when before embarking on a +9h flight.. still on the tarmac, the pilot advised that there would be turbulence at about the 6h30 mark into the flight.. ironically enough, Iberia now has a majority shareholding in Vueling through their initial low-fare interest Clickair
    • How it could be improved
      • Same as above in what concerns seating reservation engine.. it’s a simple few lines of code in their booking engine software that automatically allocate the next two available adjoining seats within a policy of rear to front seating assignment policy to try & persuade passengers to buy their seating arrangement
      • The plane had just crossed the same flight path within the last 45 to 60 minutes as the same crew that landed in Ibiza at 21h00 took us back at 21h45.. therefore.. (1) a small warning before taken-off about the violent turbulence ahead that might have saved a few very frightened passengers the shock of their lives.. (2) a warning just before we hit the violent turbulence as unfortunately these days people don’t take much notice of “only” lighting up the seat-belt signs.. (3) an acknowledgment that this turbulence is going to last another 20 minutes, which at least reassures me that it’s “under control” instead of allowing my creative imagination to start thinking about my will which I haven’t updated!

I can’t accept the argument that just because it’s a low-fare airline nothing can be done about it! Back in October of last year I had an issue with EasyJet and they went about it in a completely different fashion.

What did they do right?

  • Acknowledged my complaint
  • Followed-up when I wasn’t satisfied with their first attempt
  • Did something (corrective action) about it
  • Subsequently followed up to keep me informed as to their continuing efforts to improve customer service

It’s not really all that hard folks! It’s just a matter of listening 1st, engaging 2nd & taking corrective action 3rd.. the follow-up (4th) is a nice “icing on the cake”, or “the cherry on top” depending on how you prefer your cake 😉

This was an obvious Customer Service Experience gone wrong, and a lost opportunity to set the record straight. I’m actually a very forgiving customer, unless I feel that I’ve been totally disrespected. For those of you out there with company’s of your own, how effective is your customer service? Don’t just assume & be happy when you’re not receiving complaints, silence is not necessarily a good sign! (see below)

Can you afford the non returning customers? Is it really more cost effective to pay 4 times more (common industry bench-mark) for new customer acquisition than customer retention?

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  1. February 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    JC –

    WOW – I had a similar experience but with AT&T and not in the air – see http://bit.ly/bueNFC . Nonetheless, it always surprises me how organizations can somehow miss the simplest of things that end up costing them a fortune in repeat business. The worst of it is that the failure to correct or respond to the customer’s problem paves the way for a negative ad campaign – which not only costs the loss of the customer inflicted by their mistake it also might cost the company potential new customers too! The cost of fixing the problem surely is less than losing current and potential customers…sounds simple enough.

  2. John Smith
    February 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Hahaha I’m agree with you about the customer service is kind of lousy in general, but it’s the way it is here in Spain, or let say here in Europe, the customers can complain, but then nothing happen, it’s really funny because it doesn’t matter if you go to a bakery or in an airline company…everything is the same in the sense of customer relationship… is nothing that you can do about it, is just the way it is. So I’m sorry my friend but all your solution that you are proposing is going right to the toilet hehehe no offense of course… good try anyway… by the way, from where are you are taking those graphics? It seems like a copy/paste from somewhere else, or you just made them up?
    Well, thank you for take the time anyway… keep dreaming.

    My very best regards

    • February 16, 2010 at 12:51 PM

      Hi “John Smith”.. thanks for your comment.. I’m an eternal optimist, and so I don’t mind your “jest”. Sooner or later, when the pain (loss of cash/customers) is enough, companies listen.. regardless of their geographical location. At least that’s my experience.

      Regarding the stats.. obviously I didn’t make them up.. I pulled them off “the net”.. the sources are quoted in each “frame”.

      Cheers,
      JC

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